The Fourth R: Developing Notions of Religious Diversity
Larisa Heiphetz

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Dissertation Fellowship

Award Year



Harvard University

Primary Discipline

Religion constitutes an important social identity for children and adults worldwide. Despite the legal separation of public school and religion in the United States, religion also influences public education. However, few scholars have examined children?s understanding of religious diversity or the influence of religious difference on social preferences. Part 1 of my dissertation demonstrates that 5-10 year old children and adults differentiate religious beliefs from facts (which have only one correct answer) and preferences (which do not) and explores mechanisms underlying this effect. Parts 2-3 examine the circumstances under which children prefer those who share their beliefs. These studies show that religious cognition emerges early, that aspects of such cognition remain stable across development, and that invisible mental states influence preferences. Children?s belief-based cognitions influence their perceptions of peers throughout the elementary school years.
About Larisa Heiphetz

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